FAQs – and some answers (ii)

A couple of days ago I wrote something about FAQs, frequently asked questions, and I included some questions I frequently get asked about writing… It seems only fair, having posed those questions, then to answer them! Here are the next five –

  1. Can you teach me to write? Probably! Growing up I wanted to be a writer – I wanted to be a journalist and thought I would also write books… well, as usual things didn’t work out quite as expected. I did a degree at Manchester Polytechnic, and although I had been disappointed at not getting into a university, within about three seconds of arriving there I was more than glad that I didn’t get a university place! I had the best of teachers and lecturers, life-long friends, and the course I followed combining my three favourite and best subjects, English, History and French was excellent. I finished my degree and then realised I couldn’t actually ‘do’ anything – I had no marketable skills, so after a few years doing other things (Civil Service, Manchester Airport, pickled onion factory) I became a teacher.
    I wasn’t a natural teacher like some people – I knew my subject and was passionate about it, I loved the kids, liked my colleagues, enjoyed the schools I worked in, and gradually over the years I reckon I ended up not bad as a teacher.
    Now giving workshops, classes, leading groups I think I do OK… and so yes, I think I can teach you to write!
  2. Do you plan your stories? I’m quite flexible with planning; I have ideas and play with them in my head, usually for quite a while, months maybe years, before starting to get them down. Once I am involved in a story it’s a mixture of it writing itself and me thinking about what my characters are doing and what might happen to them. I don’t write out plans, I don’t have time lines (until I’ve finished and want to check continuity, family trees, etc) I don’t have post-it notes, card filing systems, wall charts… so I guess the answer is not really!
  3. Do you write character profiles? No.
  4. Are your stories true, or based on real things? Not exactly – sometimes a real incident which I observed or which happened to me, or I read or heard about triggers some ideas. More often it is people who are the inspiration – people I know or know of, people I observe, people I imagine, characters I come across in other mediums (yes it should be media but it looks awkward!)
  5. Do you have time-lines? See answer #2 above
  6. Do you write by hand and then type it up? No… even I can’t read my own handwriting; also all the tools that word-processing gives, cutting/pasting, finding/replacing, spell-checking make writing so much simpler. I also find seeing my words as type distances me from what I have written and helps me be more objective.

Have a look at what I have written! Here is a link to my books – I hope you enjoy reading them and I would be really grateful and appreciative if you would leave a comment or review:


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